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Tent vs Bivy Sacks: Which one to choose?

Last updated March 18, 2022| Guides

If you are already here to discover that which option, you must choose when it comes to a tent or a bivy than you must know the basic difference between these two but still here is an over view of what actually tent and bivy are. A tent is actually something that can come in all shapes and sizes, and you do not have to adjust yourself according to any standard size. There are also some ultra-light in weight summer tents that are not very bigger or heavier as compared to a bivy. Tents are not very difficult to assemble let me tell you that no matter how much easy they are to set up not even the easiest can match a bivy for ease of use. Whereas unlike a tent a bivy is fundamentally an outer shell that you can put around your sleeping bag. The most essential thing is that your bivy is waterproof so it can easily offer protection from the rain and other unfortunate conditions. A standard bivy can also offer you a few degrees of extra warmth as well as protecting against win and cold.

Below in this article we will see many different qualities and comparisons to decide and have a firm decision about which one you must choose among a tent and a bivy.

Tent vs Bivy Sacks: Which one to choose?

Tent vs Bivy Sack

Long time ago, bivy sacks were just like a huge plastic bag that you could sleep in case of emergency. They were such pathetic things that had no room for breathing and the better idea was to sleep outside of it if it was not raining. But now a days, bivy’s are a lot more comfortable and convenient. These bivy’s are weatherproof, breathable, and some even have poles in their design so that you do not have to sleep with fabric on your face which leads us to the question of “A small tent vs bivy sack, which one is best for your adventures and why?”

The perfect scenario would be, obviously, to own both so that you can pick and choose it completely depends on what kind of trip you are going on but that is not an option always so, which one is right for you will be discussed in detail as we take a look at the pros and cons of each so you can make your choice without any doubts.

Read More: What is a Bivy Sack?


You may find two kinds of bivy bags in the market, and you may choose according to yo0ur requirement, they are with poles and without poles. A bivy sack that comes without poles are a lot more breathable and comes with weatherproof cover which may let you and your sleeping bag slink into and have a comfortable night’s sleep no matter what the weather may be.

A bivy sack which have poles is kind of similar to a tent. They may come with poles at the head or head and foot end both. This somewhat raises the fabric so that it does not touch your face while you are sleeping and it feels a lot spacious and less of an enclosed space, it also aids in air circulation to lessen the condensation that is built-up during sleep.

Whereas tents are a lot more spacious overall if compared to a bivy.


No matter what kind of bivy sack you buy it is never going to be spacious. Bivy bags which have poles with them may have more space than the other kind, you might take a single or couple of important things with you in there while you sleep but nothing more than this. If you are someone who does not like to sleep in restricted spaces, then a bivy sack is not a good option for you.

Whereas a tent might not have space for your backpack and sleeping bag inside it, but there is definitely some ample space for you and some of your dear items. moreover, some lightweight tents are also available these days which are known as one-man tents those often come with two entrances which means that you will have enough space to keep your backpack and shoes safe and protected from the weather out there.


A bivy is the easiest and quickest when it comes to assembling as compared to all other options. To set up a bivy without poles, all you have to do is to set it on the ground and you have to put your sleeping bag inside the bivy, and here you go, its ready. With the one that has pole with it, you might have to spend some extra time to add two poles to the bivy. In both of these cases, it is way faster than assembling a tent with all the stakes, poles, flysheet, and guy lines.

Picking A Campsite

Since bivy sacks are very compact and easy to move, which means that you can sleep almost anywhere without having to worry about its weight and set up. Bivy bags are also way more unique so any wildlife or people in that area will not notice your presence at that place as you will look more like a log than a person resting on the ground.

When we talk about tents, the moving time and need to pick a suitable campsite reduces your options significantly but making and finding a campsite is something that many people enjoy. So, it really only depends on your personal choice.


If you have already experienced sleeping in a bivy sack before then you must know how complicated it can be to get inside it. There is a lot of complicated slouching involved if there is no zipper available and if by chance you find one, it is still hard to get in and then zip yourself up for the night.

On the other hand, tents have doors, not only one sometimes there are 2 doors present inside a tent which makes it accessible and an easy option. You will not have to shuffle around, you can just get in, leave your shoes outside and go to sleep calmly and peacefully.

Weight & Packed Size

When we talk about keeping your pack light, a bivy without a pole can be the best option. Some pole-less bivy sacks weigh as little as 8 ounces and can be rolled up super small, so you will hardly notice them in your backpack. Whereas bivy bags that has poles with then are a little heavier but way more comfortable. They can weigh around 1-2.5 lbs. A 1lb option is still very lighter most one-man tents on the planet, although the lightest one in the world is just 15 ounces but is exceptionally pricey.

On the other hand, tents have been getting lighter and lighter with new features like fabrics, design, and technology and you can simply find a solid, airy, 1- or 2-man tent that weighs between 2-3 lbs.

You can see here that there is no clear winner when we talk about weight and packed size when we are comparing poled bivy sacks and lightweight one-man tents. Pole less bivy sacks are the winner when it comes to weight, but you will have to sacrifice some of your comfort.


When we talk about price, all of these bivy sacks, with poles or without poles, are far more inexpensive than tents of a similar weight class. For an all-season poled bivy sack that is also top in quality and weighs less than 2.5 lbs. you will have to pay around $300. The Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped Bivy is an excellent example in this case.

A tent certainly is more expensive, but you get the added bonus of some headroom and a small hallway to store some of your things in.


When we talk about handling the weather, tent and bivy is pretty much the same. The same expertise that goes into the making of tents and their materials are used in bivy sacks as well, so as long as you match the quality of both of them, both bivy sacks and tents should be as good as each other when it comes to unfortunate weather conditions like rainfall and snow.

Bivy sacks are somewhat better when it comes to the windy conditions though. They have a much lower shape than a tent has and will not be pushed around in a heavy wind, plus since they also fit around you, your weight will attach them to the ground.

Breathability & Ventilation

As we all are well aware of the fact that when new are camping in a bivy or a tent, you may get wet from the outside and the inside as well. If your tent or bivy is not well aerated and has good breathability, condensation will surely build up and create moisture on the inside and you are likely wake up damp. Tents are the clear winners when it comes to ventilation as the room above your head allows the air to circulate and the inclusion of a flysheet and internal roof means they can include vents for the air to escape.

Also, Bivy bags without any poles have almost no ventilation, although some of the also includes a mesh cover which you can open if the weather allows. Bivy bags with poles do create some ventilation but still not better than the tents. Breathability depends on the fabric that is used to make the tent or bivy sack, and both can be as breathable as each other, it just depends on the product you opt for yourself.

Read More: Best Bivy Sacks in 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a bivy warmer than a tent?

Yes, bivy bag is somehow warmer than a tent because they have been designed in such a way that they can add over 4-8 degrees of warmth to your sleep system. Other than warmth, a bivy sack can also certainly keep away the drafts as it completely surrounds your body.

What is the difference between a bivy and a tent?

A tent may offer a spacious, roof-over-your-head type of feeling, a bivy is a lot like sleeping under the stars which obviously can be a great experience. At the same time, you are covered from bugs and rain with the help of a very lightweight barrier. Though, if you are not comfortable with the tight spaces, you are most likely to feel uncomfortable inside a bivy.

Is bivy a tent?

A bivy sack is somehow a mixture between a sleeping back and a one-person tent. They do keep you safe from the elements the same way a tent does for you, but only if pack down smaller and lighter. They are super comfortable with unaccompanied adventurers and with privileged mountaineers, but they can also be a great option for social trips and backyard sleepouts

Are bivy tents good?

While you are camping in a bivvy bag it may become your favorite activity on a sunny evening. It is quick and requires little or no planning and really gets you close to the nature. It is also a great option for more than one day’s adventure as the gear you will need is minimal and lightweight.

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